At the beginning, cloud computing was the promise of additional, more affordable IT resources for many organizations. Flexible, scalable and pay-as-you-went, cloud computing was the ideal add-on to cope with data growth and in-house servers that were struggling with workloads. On top of the infrastructure resources being offered, providers also created innovative business applications. IT power that had hitherto been reserved for only the largest corporations became available to the mid-sized and the small businesses too. Now the opportunity is open to beat the competition by not just bolting these online resources onto what you already have, but by directly basing your business in the cloud.
Not Just Cost Advantage, but Strategic Too
While cloud computing can be a better IT solution per se, there’s much more to be gained too. Cloud and collaboration go together. Opening up business processes to third parties (with appropriate security, of course) can reinforce partnerships, cement customer loyalty and increase business resilience. Using cloud resources that can be more rapidly configured, modified and moved around allows a business to be more agile and react faster to changing market conditions. Those who are still undecided about the value of the cloud might want to think about what their competitors are doing – especially smaller enterprises that can marshal large cloud resources for lightning fast entries into markets and customer accounts.
Time to Rethink Operations
The biggest benefits are likely to come from a redesign of processes and operations to take advantage of the cloud. This will require ‘out of the box’ thinking to exploit the possibilities that the cloud offers and that on-premises computing does not. Supply chain visibility for better customer service is an example. Cloud-based supply chain monitoring and management allows all departments of an enterprise as well as upstream (suppliers) and downstream (distributors) to get the logistical information they need when they need it. Operations are streamlined, stocks are balanced and end-customers receive speedier, more accurate deliveries.
Come Join My Cloud Party
More people connect to the cloud than to any specific in-house resources. More skills and expertise are available, often on the same flexible basis as the IT resources at the heart of cloud computing. Above IaaS (Infrastructure-as-a-Service), PaaS (Platform-as-a-Service) and SaaS (Software-as-a-Service), there is now TaaS or HaaS (Talent-as-a-Service or Humans-as-a-Service). Companies are no longer constrained by the skillsets they have within their own workforce. If somebody else out there has the knowhow and a connection to the cloud, the company can hire that person’s services and collaboration to move into new markets or defend against new competitors.
Software – Better to Eat It than Be Eaten By It?
“Software is eating the world”, wrote Marc Andreessen of ex-Netscape fame and now technology venture capital’s poster boy. He saw how businesses are increasingly being run by software and also how the cloud was opening up radical new possibilities of software-driven operations. Organizations will have a choice. They can be eaten by other more cloud-savvy enterprises. Or they can choose to eat by understanding how to use the cloud at different levels and designing its strategic advantages in from the start. Successful companies are therefore more likely to acquire a taste for the second approach, meaning the cloud-centric one.